The U.S. Dept. of Transportation plans to release its proposal for revamping how federal aviation programs are financed soon after President Bush unveils his fiscal year 2008 budget proposal, says DOT Secretary Mary E. Peters. Bush will send his budget plan to Congress on Feb. 5, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
Federal Aviation Administration activities are up for reauthorization this year on Capitol Hill, including the Airport Improvement Program, which provides more than $3 billion a year in federal grants for runways, taxiways and other infrastructure. For many months, Bush administration officials have made no secret of their desire to change the system of user fees that flow into the Airport and Airway Trust Fund and provide a better match between what users pay and the costs they impose on the aviation system.
Peters, speaking before the Aero Club of Washington, D.C., on Jan. 23, didn't provide any details of what the proposed bill would look like, but indicated it would include major changes. According to the prepared text of her comments, she said, "Expiration of the FAA authorization and trust fund financing provides a once-in-a-decade opportunity to rewrite the book when it comes to America's aviation policies."
Echoing earlier statements by other DOT officials, Peters also said, "The importance of getting a financing bill that ties revenues to costs and allows us to manage the FAA more efficiently cannot be overstated."
Peters was sworn in as DOT secretary on Oct. 17, 2006, succeeding Norman Y. Mineta. She formerly was head of the Federal Highway Administration and led the Arizona DOT.